The moment Ajinkya Rahane nudged a Nathan Lyon delivery past short fine leg, an entire country rose up in elation. Scars of Adelaide had been well and truly buried as India secured a comprehensive eight-wicket victory against the Aussies to level the series. Can it get any better than this?
This was definitely one of the finest and most memorable Test wins in the modern era, catapulted by a skipper who was comfortable in his own bloody skin and led the team in his own inimitable way. It was done in the absence of not one, not two, not three but four first-choice pacers – Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneswar Kumar, and Umesh Yadav (in the second innings of the Test) yet India outplayed their opponents in a way that would leave you scratching the head.
While this will be remembered for a long long time, it is worth remembering that there have been many memorable Test wins in this century. CricXtasy takes a look at three such games that made the Indian team believe.
India’s innings victory in Headingley 2002
If the comprehensiveness and context goes, Leeds 2002 is one of Indian cricket’s most defining moments. After being beaten by 170 runs in the first Test, at Lord’s, India had their backs against the wall and it needed more than just a good performance to save their faces. However, the team led by Sourav Ganguly stood up and delivered a master class.
On a typical English green pitch with a cloud cover hovering above that would make any pacer licking their lips, Rahul Dravid stood tall. He negotiated the difficult passage of play alongside Sanjay Bangar to score a stoic century before Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly added their own.
Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh took 11 of the 20 wickets to ensure England never had a chance and thus India completed an innings win. A first away win for the generation of Indian cricketers, they earned the respect of millions. India were no more the pushover in the alien conditions as it used to be.
An encore in Rawalpindi
Is it surprising that the second win on the list also features Rahul Dravid? Well, of course, No. Dravid was one of Indian cricket’s biggest crisis men overseas and he showed what he got in the 2004 Rawalpindi Test with a majestic 270 following a pasting from the home side in the previous encounter.
India had a blip in New Zealand in 2003 on pitches that made the games a lottery, but in Pakistan, against a side filled with superstars, India, and Virender Sehwag in particular, owned the Multan bout.
By the time Rawalpindi came in, Dravid ensured Sehwag’s efforts would not go in vain as he with the help of Parthiv Patel, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly pushed the hosts to swords.
Indian bowlers then complemented to inflict an innings defeat on the hosts as India secured their first series victory in Pakistan.
Perth 2008 – a story for the ages
Another backs to the wall performance India are extremely proud of. After a shambolic end to the Sydney Test match in 2008, where umpiring errors took the centre stage following the Monkeygate scandal, Yet in Perth, India showed no signs of it or in fact, seemed more determined than ever to show the Aussies what they have got.
India managed 330 in their first innings, with Rahul Dravid scoring 93 and that was enough inspiration for the Indian seamers to bundle Australia out for 212.
A VVS Laxman masterclass in the second innings pushed India’s lead to 412 and Australia had a mountain to climb. Irfan Pathan, one of the most promising bowlers of that decade, picked up three wickets in the second innings as India completed the historic win.